Challenges abound when it comes to generating leads for professional services firms: selecting the right tactics to generate quality leads, implementing lead generation activities consistently, breaking through the noise and getting the attention of busy decision makers, measuring and tracking what's working for you, and the list goes on.
In research conducted in partnership with ITSMA (2010), we found that the number one challenge companies face when trying to generate leads is finding a strategy, tactic, or offer that gets the attention of potential leads. Of the 845 B2B services professionals polled, 42.1% said this was extremely or very challenging.
Top 10 Lead Generation Challenges
Overcome Your Lead Generation Challenges
To help you overcome these challenges, we looked at what the top performing companies do differently than the rest. We define top performers as companies that:
- Increased revenue growth over the last three years
- Increased profitability over the last three years
- Rate themselves as either excellent or good at generating leads
If you want to overcome your lead generation challenges, emulate what the best do:
1. Know your audience. The first step to choosing tactics that are going to work (challenge #1) is to understand your targets. It's marketing 101: target, target, target. And targeting goes beyond knowing the general profile of the types of clients you want. You need to know what's important to them. How they make decisions. Where they look for potential service providers.
The top performers select lead generation tactics and offers based on deep knowledge of their target markets and the business issues they face. To get a better understanding of your audience, talk to some of your best clients. Ask them what challenges they were facing when they started looking for services like yours and why they ultimately decided to choose you. Ask them how they went about searching for service providers. Ask them what they would say if they were describing your firm to a colleague. Ask them about the benefits they've received as a result of working with you.
After speaking to a handful of your clients, a picture will begin to form. You'll start to hear the same set of challenges and business issues where you help. You can then take this and develop messages and offers that speak to these specific challenges. You can target companies where these challenges are most likely to appear. The more you know about your audience and the issues they face, the better you'll be able to develop offers and choose tactics that will break through the noise and get their attention (the #1 challenge companies face).
2. Make measurement a top priority. It's no wonder you can't agree on tactics (challenge #10) if you're not measuring results (challenge #3). You have to become rigorous in measurement. You need to know where your clients come from, where each lead comes from, how many qualified leads you're generating, what your proposal win rate is, etc. Consistent tracking, measurement, and analysis is a must.
The top performers measure not only the number of leads generated, closed deals, and revenue, but they also measure their progress at each stage of the sales pipeline. You need to have a closed-loop system in place to track all lead generation, lead nurturing, and sales activities. Do this and you'll find that choosing (challenge #10) and funding (challenge #6) tactics become much easier.
3. Put the right people in the right roles. Two of the top 10 challenges have to do with who's responsible for generating leads: challenge #2 , "having enough people/the right people to generate leads," and challenge #9, "having appropriate skills/knowledge among people charged with generating leads."
In professional services firms, often those responsible for delivering the business are also responsible for generating leads, leading sales conversations, closing deals, and managing clients. So, what happens when the delivery staff get's busy with clients? All other lead generation activities come to a halt. If you want to succeed with lead generation, you must have an engine that continually generates new leads. You can't "do" lead generation when you have time.
We found that in addition to seller-doers, top performers are much more likely to have staff dedicated to selling services compared to below-average performing companies (70.4% and 41.2%, respectively). You need to have the right people in the right roles to sustain your lead generation engine. Otherwise, you'll fall victim to the services revenue roller coaster.
The challenges are plenty, but companies that meet them head on and follow these best practices reap the rewards of profitably and revenue growth. Do as they do, and you may find that you too will become a top performing firm.